The 2020 guide to the office party – what could possibly go wrong with Zoom?

Published: 17 December 2020
Author: James Chapman

It’s December, and the talk of the office this time of year is usually around the company Christmas party. Except that many of us are not in an office, and social gatherings are not allowed. So, what does this mean for the infamous corporate Christmas party?

Could the first annual festive party over Zoom be the most inclusive? Firstly, there are the benefits: you have no real danger of arriving too early, too late, too sober or tipsy (especially if you are currently based in Wales or Scotland). Introverts, and those that don’t like to mix business with pleasure, needn’t worry about not joining in enough, and for the extroverts, they need not fear the perils of being ‘too loud’ or monopolising the conversation.

Sounds ideal, right? Firstly, there is no getting ready in the staff toilets, or unplugging your colleague’s computer to plug your hair straighteners in at the desk. Unfortunately, you are unlikely to receive that ‘goodwill gesture’ email from the boss on the day of the party. You know the one, stating that you can leave a whole hour earlier to drive back home (even though you got a lift to work that morning), get dressed up and then somehow make it to the venue in time for welcome prosecco at six.

What to wear

There is no need to worry about the PC (pre-Covid) black tie trousers not fitting. Just ensure you are wearing clean underwear and are comfortable at the desk. Likewise, a ‘nice top’ and jeans has never been an easier option.

Flirting via Zoom

In the virtual world, there are no awkward seating plans to worry about. There is no need to get to the table early to swap place names. Of course, angling the camera, adjusting the lighting, and playing with the hair are all still options. However, this element of harmless festive fun is likely to stay on hold for another time. Which is good news for HR departments!

Ensure you have a substantial meal

Perhaps this rule was introduced with the Zoom Christmas party in mind. Keeping drinking under control should, in theory, be relatively easy. As too, is not over indulging on carved turkey and suffering from indigestion for the rest of the evening! Some companies – the ones that are doing really well – might have even ordered a food delivery, but for the vast majority of virtual partygoers, eating a festive meal from your own supplies is likely to be the only option. You can save money too, no tempting midnight kebab purchases as you ate too early! The credit card can safely stay at home – well you ARE at home – but unless you use the time to order some last-minute Christmas presents online, it shouldn’t be needed.

The polite art of conversation

With no awkward table plan that leaves you talking to your boss / someone you owe an overdue email response to (delete as applicable), small conversation and politely passing the salt and pepper are so 2019.

No office clowns

A 2019 PC (pre-Covid) study of 2000 office workers found that one in ten have previously been caught attempting to photocopy a body part. So, hopefully if your company has one of these 200 exhibitionists, they will be wearing multiple layers, a jump suit or even a straitjacket and will easily avoid temptation!

It’s all over by ten

Unfortunately, there is no early escape with the pre-booked taxi excuse, or the ‘I’m doing the Three Peaks Challenge in the morning’ – but there is good news.

As in bygone days, where you would be eating three large courses at a mid-tier restaurant on a Wednesday afternoon in December, this year’s office Christmas Party festivities are likely to finish by ten. With the absence of  overbooked taxis and hotel room after-parties, employees should be able to retreat to their own bed and perhaps for the first time ever – without considering a sickie, a resignation, or an attempted kidnap as the perfect excuse for their bad dancing the night before

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